Gent 2-3 Wolfsburg
Julian Draxler scored twice and Max Kruse once as the visitors looked to have wrapped up the tie, but Sven Kums and Kalifa Coulibaly replied late on.
Article top media content
- Gent score twice in last ten minutes to revive hopes against Wolfsburg
- Julian Draxler nets either side of half-time to put visitors in charge (44, 54)
- Max Kruse volleys in third to seemingly end contest (60)
- Sven Kums pulls one back (80) and Kalifa Coulibaly heads late second (89)
- Second leg to be played at VfL Wolfsburg Arena on 8 March
Goals in the last ten minutes from Sven Kums and Kalifa Coulibaly gave Gent hope of salvaging their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie with Wolfsburg, who had threatened to run away with the first leg thanks to Julian Draxler's fine double and a Max Kruse volley.
Gent had won two and drawn the other of their home group games, and the first clear chance of the night fell their way. Laurent Depoitre cleverly headed Nana Asare's deep left-wing cross back towards Thomas Foket, but the shot was lashed over.
Wolfsburg had dictated much of the match before then and quickly resumed control thereafter. Home goalkeeper Matz Sels was still not called into action until eight minutes before the break, yet then had to dive full length to his right to palm away a stinging Kruse drive.
Wolfsburg did not have long to wait for an opener. Draxler turned brilliantly away from Foket just inside the Gent half and advanced to roll a pass into Vieirinha. The Portuguese slipped the return ball inside and Draxler slid his low finish past the exposed Sels.
Gent again pressed as the second half kicked off, but once more Wolfsburg's counterattacking was clinical. This time they had a helping hand in the shape of Renato Neto's careless pass and Draxler took full advantage, pushing the ball through Stefan Mitrović's legs before lifting a shot over Sels.
Six minutes later, Wolfsburg tightened their grip as Kruse got on the end of Christian Träsch's perfect right-wing cross to volley in. It might have quickly been four as Kruse's angled attempt came back off the woodwork, although at the other end the same fate befell Kums, his deflected effort looping onto the crossbar.
Kums enjoyed better fortune ten minutes from time, cutting inside from the left away from two challenges before rifling low inside Koen Casteels's far post. The goal sparked Gent into life and, a minute before the end of normal time, Coulibaly met Kenneth Saief's centre to head in at the near post and set up an intriguing second leg.
Key player: Julian Draxler (Wolfsburg)
Two goals in his last three Bundesliga outings suggested the midfielder had rediscovered his scoring touch, and so it proved. The breakthrough was made by his injection of pace and cool head in front of goal; the second showed his alertness and the finish was again impressive.
Wolfsburg's away improvement
The German club have the worst away record in this season's Bundesliga, also losing two of their three away games in Group B. Indeed, they had not won on their travels since a 2-0 success at CSKA Moskva on matchday five. However, they produced a textbook away performance here, soaking up Gent's pressure before hitting on the break to devastating effect.
Gent spirit shines through
At 3-0 Gent were out of the contest; only one team in 185 matches having ever come back from a 0-3 deficit in UEFA club competition. However, the Belgian side made a habit of notching crucial late goals in the group stage – and their late strikes from Kums and Coulibaly give them a glimmer of hope for the trip to Germany.